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Learning English - Words in the News
10 November, 2006 - Published 15:26 GMT
Mexico gay unions
Mexican gay rights protesters
Gay rights protesters demonstrated while legislators voted

The legislative assembly in Mexico City has approved a bill recognising same sex civil unions for the first time in the country's history. This report from Emilio San Pedro:

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The bill, which grants same sex couples the same social benefits extended to heterosexual married couples, such as inheritance and pension rights, was approved by a vote of forty-three to seventeen. It was backed by the left-wing PRD party which controls the city's legislative assembly but opposed by the governing conservative PAN party and the Catholic Church in Mexico, which has condemned gay marriages and same sex unions as going against the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage, which it maintains should only be between a man and a woman.

And although the new law recognises civil unions between gay and heterosexual couples, it doesn't recognise the right of gay people to go through an official marriage ceremony.

That hasn't stopped gay rights groups in Mexico from celebrating. They've heralded the approval of the bill as an important sign that the traditionally Catholic country was shedding its ultra-religious machista image. The leader in Mexico City of the left-wing PRD party, Marti Batres, described the move as a first step, which he said could lead to a national debate on same sex unions and similar legislation being approved in other parts of the country.

In fact, a civil unions bill is currently being debated by the local congress in the northern state of Coahuila, on the border with Texas. But the power of the Church in Mexico, the second largest Catholic country in the world, guarantees that the approval of such measures will be met with strong opposition.

Emilio San Pedro, BBC

Listen to the words

backed by
supported and encouraged by

legislative assembly
the government department which makes new laws

the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage
the great religious importance of marriage that has to be kept

to go through
here, to have

heralded the approval of the bill
publicly and positively acknowledged the introduction of the new law

was shedding its ultra-religious machista image
was getting rid of its reputation of being too religious and acting in a way seen as traditional male behaviour

a national debate
a public discussion around the whole country

boundary, frontier, line dividing two countries

here, new laws

met with strong opposition
people will express strong opinions against it

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